Tag Archives: Chris Beal

NextOre’s magnetic resonance tech up and running at First Quantum’s Kansanshi

Australia-based NextOre is onto another ore sorting assignment with its magnetic resonance (MR) sensing technology, this time in Zambia at First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine.

NextOre was originally formed in 2017 as a joint venture between CSIRO, RFC Ambrian and Worley, with its MR technology representing a leap forward in mineral sensing that provides accurate, whole-of-sample grade measurements, it says.

Demonstrated at mining rates of 4,300 t/h, per conveyor belt, the technology comes with no material preparation requirement and provides grade estimates in seconds, NextOre claims. This helps deliver run of mine grade readings in seconds, providing “complete transparency” for tracking downstream processing and allowing operations to selectively reject waste material.

Having initially successfully tested its magnetic resonance analysers (MRAs) at Newcrest’s Cadia East mine in New South Wales, Australia, the company has gone onto test and trial the innovation across the Americas and Asia.

More recently, it set up camp in Africa at First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine where it is hoping to show off the benefits of the technology in a trial.

The MRA in question was installed in January on the sulphide circuit’s 2,800 t/h primary crushed conveyor at Kansanshi, with the installation carried out with remote assistance due to COVID-19 restrictions on site.

Anthony Mukutuma, General Manager at First Quantum’s Kansanshi Mine in the Northwestern Province of Zambia, said the operation was exploring the use of MRAs for online ore grade analysis and subsequent possible sorting to mitigate the impacts of mining a complex vein-type orebody with highly variating grades.

“The installation on the 2,800 t/h conveyor is a trial to test the efficacy of the technology and consider engineering options for physical sorting of ore prior to milling,” he told IM.

Chris Beal, NextOre CEO, echoed Mukutuma’s words on grade variation, saying daily average grades at Kansanshi were on par with what the company might see in a bulk underground mine, but when NextOre looked at each individual measurement – with each four seconds representing about 2.5 t – it was seeing some “higher grades worthy of further investigation”.

“The local geology gives it excellent characteristics for the application of very fast measurements for bulk ore sorting,” he told IM.

Mukutuma said the initial aim of the trial – to validate the accuracy and precision of the MRA scanner – was progressing to plan.

“The next phase of the project is to determine options for the MRA scanner to add value to the overall front end of processing,” he said.

Beal was keen to point out that the MRA scanner setup at Kansanshi was not that much different to the others NextOre had operating – with the analyser still measuring copper in the chalcopyrite mineral phase – but the remote installation process was very different.

“Despite being carried out remotely, this installation went smoother than even some where we had a significant on-site presence,” he said. “A great deal of that smoothness can be attributed to the high competency of the Kansanshi team. Of course, our own team, including the sensing and sorting team at CSIRO, put in a huge effort to quickly pivot from the standard installation process, and also deserve a great deal of credit.”

Beal said the Kansanshi team were supplied with all the conventional technical details one would expect – mechanical drawings, assembly drawings, comprehensive commissioning instructions and animations showing assembly.

To complement that, the NextOre team made use of both the in-built remote diagnostic systems standard in each MRA and several remote scientific instruments, plus a Trimble XR10 HoloLens “mixed-reality solution” that, according to Trimble, helps workers visualise 3D data on project sites.

“The NextOre and CSIRO teams were on-line on video calls with the Kansanshi teams each day supervising the installation, monitoring the outputs of the analyser and providing supervision in real time,” Beal said. He said the Kansanshi team had the unit installed comfortably within the planned 12-hour shutdown window.

By the second week of February the analyser had more than 90% availability, Beal said in early April.

He concluded on the Kansanshi installation: “There is no question that we will use the remote systems developed during this project in each project going ahead, but, when it is at all possible, we will always have NextOre representatives on site during the installation process. This installation went very smoothly but we cannot always count on that being the case. And there are other benefits to having someone on site that you just cannot get without being there.

“That said, in the future, we expect that a relatively higher proportion of support and supervision can be done through these remote systems. More than anything, this will allow us to more quickly respond to events on site and to keep the equipment working reliably.”

Magnetite Mines up for NextOre magnetic resonance ore sorting pilot at Razorback

Having shown potential in lab-based test work to increase head grades at the Razorback project, NextOre’s magnetic resonance (MR) ore sorting technology is to now get an outing in South Australia at the high-grade iron ore development.

Razorback owner, Magnetite Mines, says it has entered into an agreement with NextOre to supply a mobile bulk ore sorting plant using a magnetic resonance (MR) sensor for a trial of the technology at the project.

The company said: “This advances our exclusive partnership with NextOre and is an important step in our journey to unlocking the potential of the Razorback project. The company is excited by the potential of the NextOre technology to enhance processing of by ‘pre-concentrating’ run of mine ore feed to increase plant head grade.”

The NextOre agreement includes a non-refundable deposit of A$100,000 ($71,418) and contemplates further, staged payments of A$700,000, Magnetite Mines says. The scope covers supply of a full-scale mobile ore sorting plant to site at Razorback for sorting magnetite ore using MR technology during the trial period for the purpose of mine feasibility analysis. The agreement includes milestone dates, with the equipment despatch from the CSIRO Lucas Heights facility, in New South Wales, expected in 2021.

Formed in 2017 by CSIRO, Advisian Digital and RFC Ambrian, NextOre supplies MR ore sorting solutions to global mining companies that applies mineral sensing technology developed by the CSIRO.

Unlike traditional ore sorting technologies that are based on X-ray or infra-red transmission, NextOre’s on-belt MR analyser ore sorting solution allows for the grade of high throughput ore to be measured at industry-leading accuracies and speeds, NextOre says. Due to the high speed of the technology, the integrative system is able to perform the analysis, computation and physical diversion of waste ores down to one second intervals allowing for fast diversion or high-resolution sorting.

As previously reported, the company entered into an exclusivity agreement with NextOre granting Magnetite Mines exclusive use of its MR ore sorting technology for any magnetite processing applications Australia-wide and all iron ore applications in the Braemar (including New South Wales) for a period of four years.

Magnetite Mines Chairman, Peter Schubert, said: “NextOre’s magnetic resonance sorting technology, developed over many years in conjunction with the CSIRO, has a rapid response time allowing unprecedented selection accuracy and speed. The result is potential for a substantial increase in the head grade of plant feed, resulting in lower unit operating costs and a significant improvement in capital efficiency.

“This technology also offers potential environmental benefits, with enhanced water efficiency and reduced tailings volumes.”

He added: “We are particularly interested in the potential of the NextOre technology to increase the grade of ore fed to the concentrator. The bulk trial of this exciting technology will contribute to the study work now underway.”

Chris Beal, CEO of NextOre said: “We are enthusiastic supporters of Magnetite Mines’ vision of unlocking the vast resources in South Australia’s Braemar region. Their disciplined approach, which leverages emerging technologies with well-established mining methodologies, is a testament to the team’s knowledge and experience in the field.

“In our collaborative planning, the Magnetite Mines methodology of carefully integrating mine and mill activities speaks strongly to the ability to generate the maximum value from bulk ore sorting solution. I am thrilled that NextOre can contribute to this transformative project and I look forward to jointly developing Australia’s reputation as a global leader in green resource extraction.”

Magnetite Mines and NextOre sign ore sorting exclusivity pact

Magnetite Mines Ltd says it has entered into an exclusivity agreement with ore sorting technology company NextOre to use its leading-edge magnetic resonance ore sorting technology for pre-concentration of magnetite and iron ore projects.

The terms of the agreement include exclusive use for any magnetite processing applications Australia-wide and all iron ore applications in the Braemar (including New South Wales) for a period of four years.

Formed in 2017 by RFC Ambrian, Advisian Digital and the CSIRO, NextOre aims to commercialise magnetic resonance ore sorting technology, an on-belt mineral sensing technology developed by the CSIRO. The technology uses a magnetic resonance analyser (MRA), a form of radio frequency spectroscopy, for the quantitative measurement of target ore minerals.

The use of the MRA allows for a high throughput, high accuracy bulk sorting application that is typically added to the front-end of a processing flow sheet to divert waste ores away before processing, according to Magnetite Mines. “This has the effect of improving mining grades by pre-concentrating the ore that will be subject to processing, whilst rejecting significant tonnages of low-grade material to tailings via a diversion method such as a chute flop gate or dead box diverter.”

The theorised result of ore sorting is a reduced volume of upgraded ore that performs better in the processing plant while reducing processing costs as nil-value material that would ordinarily be subject to downstream processing is rejected early on, according to the company.

“Unlike traditional ore sorting technologies that are based on X-ray or infra-red transmission, NextOre’s on-belt MRA ore sorting solution allows for the grade of high throughput ore to be measured at industry-leading accuracies and speeds. Due to the high speed of the technology, the integrative system is able to perform the analysis, computation and physical diversion of waste ores down to 1 second intervals allowing for fast diversion or high resolution sorting.”

Magnetite Mines Chairman, Peter Schubert, said: “We see great potential for technology to unlock a step change in competitiveness of our Razorback iron project (pictured). NextOre has completed an initial mathematical assessment based on our extensive geological data and the results are encouraging.”

Schubert said the company was moving to bulk test work to prove its application in its Razorback iron project, which has generated some 3,900 Mt of iron ore resources and has over 110 km of unexplored strike. The company believes it will be able to produce a 68.8% Fe concentrate from the project.

He added: “NextOre’s magnetic resonance sorting technology, developed over many years in conjunction with the CSIRO, has a rapid response time allowing unprecedented selection accuracy and speed.

“The result is a substantial increase in the head grade of plant feed, resulting in lower unit operating costs and a significant improvement in capital efficiency. But the application of this technology also gives environmental benefits, with enhanced water efficiency and lower tailings levels.”

Razorback already has advantages of scale, proximity to established ports, proximity to rail and shallow stripping, according to Schubert, “but the NextOre technology takes the competitiveness of the resource to another level”.

The company has initiated a desktop study of NextOre’s ore sorting solution with initial results to-date being very positive, it said.

Initial analysis of the macro-scale heterogeneity of the Razorback iron project JORC 2012 mineral resources indicates that the orebodies are suited to the application of ore sorting.

“The highly selective technology is particularly well suited to magnetite measurement and can be calibrated for several mineral types,” it said. “Further test work is envisaged in the near future in aid of refining the existing flowsheet.”

Chris Beal, CEO of NextOre, said: “The Braemar Province is really an astonishingly vast mineralogical system and represents an incredible potential for value. Owing in large part to the way nature arranged its geology, the system appears particularly well suited to the application of bulk ore sorting systems.

“In terms of reductions in water and electricity consumption, tailings dam size reductions, and overall plant efficiencies, the application of bulk ore sorting has the potential to impact developments in the region in a significant way.”

NextOre to ramp up bulk ore sorting sensor development with new funds

NextOre says it has raised A$2 million ($1.35 million) in a private funding round primarily to ramp up manufacturing and sales of its flagship bulk ore sorting sensor system.

The company’s products apply magnetic resonance (MR) technology, used for decades in medical MRI machines, to deliver real-time information about ore that miners can use for decision making.

Copper-detecting MR Analysers have been installed globally at mines in Latin America and Australia, with more scheduled for installation this year. While NextOre is focusing initially on copper sorting applications, the MR technology is applicable to a list of other commodities including iron ore and gold, according to NextOre. Funds raised will be used to grow the company’s global footprint from its existing customer base, the company said.

The MR Analyser is the result of nearly 15 years of research and development carried out by CSIRO Minerals Resources. NextOre, a spinoff from CSIRO, is now a partnership between CSIRO and RFC Ambrian, with the two joined by Advisian Digital.

Chris Beal, CEO of NextOre, said: “With this technology, miners will be able to mine more intelligently. Miners have historically innovated by going bigger – bigger trucks, bigger processing facilities, bigger mines – they’ve been forced to do this because there hasn’t been a technology that would allow them to look at the rock while it’s being mined, see how much metal is in it, and then efficiently make a decision on whether to keep it or throw it away.”

He said the company’s technology will enable miners to produce more metal using “smaller, more efficient plants” that consume less electricity, water and chemicals in the process.

Beal continued: “This is truly disruptive technology for the mining space, and it’s brought about by a team at CSIRO with a world-class track record. This is the same group that was instrumental in developing XRF for the minerals industry in the 1960s and 1970s, who developed on-stream ash analysers in use across the coal industry, and who developed the cutting edge PhotonAssay technology that’s now replacing fire assay.”